Much like the new mama trying to learn how to mom from Google, as friends and family, most of us don’t have the guide book on how to help. Especially for those of us who don’t have children of our own, we may draw a big blank when it comes to knowing what to do, but we can show up the best we know how by offering specific support.
By: Graeme Seabrook.
It is 8:25 in the morning and I already know it's going to be a bad day. It was a bad afternoon yesterday, which led to a bad night and we rolled straight into a bad day today.
Not enough rest.
The house is disgusting.
Nothing is working right.
The toddler is in a crappy mood.
I have no energy and am at that stage of pregnancy where everything either hurts or is uncomfortable.
Add a history of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, a borderline OCD personality and the hormonal fluctuations of late pregnancy and you have a recipe for a disaster of a day.
All the moms at drop off this morning were smiling. The women who take care of my son during the day greeted our identical frowns with beaming smiles. I gave him a kiss and told him that I love him and said goodbye. He gave me a look that perfectly reflected what I was really thinking, "I don't want to do today".
Can we all just be honest for a second? Sometimes I just don't want to do today, whatever today is. Some days just suck. I don't want to go run it out, or make a gratitude journal. I don't want to breathe through it in a yoga class or to pray it away. I don't want read something funny or to cheer myself up. I want to go to bed and hide from this day. I want to say a big, loud NO to this day and make it all stop.
Of course I can't. There are three hours until I pick my son up and I have about five hours of work to do in them. While he naps, if he naps, I'll clean so that the house doesn't bother me quite so much. At some point I'll also get to the grocery store, make dinner and finish a project that is going terribly, but which must get done.
I won't be smiling today. I won't be making funny small talk with the parents at pick up or the clerk at the grocery store. I'm not going to use what little energy I have faking it.
Today is a bad day. I've made the (possibly radical?) decision to just let it be a bad day. I'll cry when I need to and yell into my trusty pillow when I get overwhelmed. I'll eat the ice cream and I'll fold clothes a tad too aggressively. I won't feel guilty about not being happy today. I'm going to move through this bad day and let it move through me. And tomorrow? Well, who knows what tomorrow could bring.
Hold On Pain Ends
Hope. It's essential. It's vital. It gives us strength and comfort. It can get us through the darkest night. For so many women it is the one thing they desperately need to get through the postpartum period. Hope that they won't always feel like this. Hope that this won't harm their children. Hope that their relationships can survive this. Hope that someone will understand. Hope that someone will help.
Hope is one of the first things that Postpartum Depression, Anxiety and OCD tries to steal from you. Depression tells you that no one cares, Anxiety tells you that you are ruining everything, OCD tells you that you will hurt or be unable to protect your baby. They are liars. But when your own brains seems to have turned on you, where do you find hope? How do you hold on until the pain ends when you honestly can't see an end to the pain?
This is why we are here. THIS is what we do. You may have noticed that our tagline - "Educating. Supporting. Healing." We exist to show moms, dads, families, and providers that there is a way out of this. Each path is different. Some include medication, therapy, support groups, online groups, diet changes, exercise, vitamins, acupuncture, massage... there are as many paths as there are women. The important thing is that there is also hope.
950,000 women will suffer from a maternal mental illness (depression, anxiety, OCD or psychosis) each year. That's 1 in 5 new moms. What they need most of all is hope. They need to know that they are not alone, that in fact they are far from being alone. They need to know that they can reach out for help and help will reach back. They need to know that if they can just Hold On, Pain Ends.
How can you help? You can share this post with a new or expecting mama. You can share it on social media. You can contact us and volunteer. You can donate time or money or both! You can ask a new mom how she is doing - and listen to her answer.
If you need help please reach out. Please know that we are here. Please Hold On until the Pain Ends. Please have HOPE.
By: Graeme Seabrook.
By: Graeme Seabrook.
The sound of my son giggling through the monitor woke me. Then the thoughts began.
A good mother would have been up before him and ready to greet the day when he opened his eyes. A real mother would have already taught him how to say Mama. Why doesn't he ever call for me?
I set his milk to warm and then set the coffee maker up and turned it on, got him up and changed and we went into the living room to snuggle and have his morning bottle.
A real mother would have been prepared the night before. The Montessori book said that he should be pulling off his diaper by now. Am I not giving him enough freedom to learn? Should he still be drinking from a bottle at 19months? Why am I so selfishly holding him back? He should still be breast feeding, he should still be breast feeding. FAILURE!
He had apple zucchini muffins for breakfast in his high chair. Which, of course, he didn't eat.
Because you're a terrible cook. He isn't eating enough vegetables. He should still be breast feeding, he should still be breast feeding. FAILURE!
He played at my feet and around the house while I answered work emails, checked our calendar and made the grocery list for the day.
You are missing quality time with your child. Why isn't he your primary focus? He should still be breast feeding, he should still be breast feeding. FAILURE!
His father came out to play for a little while before heading off to work.
NO, you do not get to be jealous that he gets to leave and go to an office and talk to adults all day. NO, you do not get to be relieved that you don't have to get up and shower and put on makeup and look like a professional and go to an office all day. He should still be breast feeding, he should still be breast feeding. FAILURE!
I finished up the grocery list, got his socks, shoes and jacket on and threw a long coat over my leggings/t-shirt combo.
I may look like shit, but my child is always clean, fed and perfectly dressed. My mother never left the house looking like this. Is this the type of woman I want to model to my son? He should still be breast feeding, he should still be breast feeding. FAILURE!
When we got to the store there was a mother coming out with her daughter. We passed each other, smiled and nodded. The babies waved at each other - SO EXCITED to see another little person. In a moment I knew that she had showered and dressed that morning, she wasn't on any medication to make her able to get through her day, she was a contributing, functioning adult. Her daughter loved her, was happy to see her and happy to be with her. SHE was obviously breastfeeding. You just KNOW. This mother was better than me in pretty much every measurable way.
Some of the voices that live in my head come from my five year old self, dreaming about what it would be like to be a mommy. Some of them come from my pregnant self, reading books and articles, talking to the little alien swimming around inside me. Some of them come from the Depression and Anxiety that I have been battling since his birth.
Some of them are from the comments section of way too many blogs and articles because I still haven't learned to not read the comments. Some of them come from comments left on my own blog or as a reaction to something I posted on another blog. Anonymous lives in my head too. She is perfect and she hates me.
We have to stop doing this to ourselves and we have to stop doing this to each other. We each have the power - we can forgive ourselves and in doing so we can offer grace to each other. I see it in support groups all the time - moms offering each other a hand up, moms helping to silence the negative voices in each other's heads.
To every woman reading this I make a promise:
I will forgive myself and I will hold your hand while you forgive yourself.
I will stand beside you while we do the hard work of mothering.
We can do this, together.
By: Graeme Seabrook.
I hear it all the time: I thought I was the only one! I hear it in support groups and I read it in the comments on blogs and on Facebook. I hear it over the phone and I read it via messenger. Each mother is totally and completely sure that she is alone in her illness, that she is the worst to ever have these symptoms and that it is her fault.
Approximately 950,000 mothers will suffer from a Maternal Mental Illness each year. That is almost ONE MILLION MOMS. That is more than four times the number of women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer about 210,000.
Not only are you not alone now, you never were alone. When your world drained of color and everything turned grey, you were not alone. You were not the only mother who threw all of the knives out of the house or who wouldn't go near the stairs or the bathtub because of the images in your head you couldn't control. You weren't alone when you were raging and screaming or when you broke down afterwards from the guilt and fear. You were never, ever alone.
Right now there are almost a million moms all across this country who are right there with you. They are at work, at school, driving carpool and making dinner. They are questioning and second guessing and hating themselves and wishing it could be different.
They are going to therapy and to the doctor. They are going to acupuncture and yoga and running and swimming and coloring and dancing and they are trying so hard to be kind to themselves and to heal.
They are reaching out to each other and opening up to each other and they are discovering that they are not alone. They were never, ever alone.
They are deep in the depths and they are climbing towards the light. They are in recovery and they are recovering from the recovery. They are deciding not to have children again and they are announcing pregnancies and they are leaving things up to fate.
They are learning to turn guilt into regret and let it go and they are teaching and supporting each other on that road.
None of us were ever alone. When you felt like you were in the deepest hole and could not, should not ever be rescued I was right there too. I felt that too. Every year almost a million moms will join us. None of them will ever be alone either, even when they don't know it, because we are already here.
So, what can you do? Oh, so many things!
Tell your story, if you're ready. Telling your story, to a friend or on a blog or in the comments section on another post - telling your story anywhere can be so powerful and freeing.
Tell a pregnant friend: Tell her that 1 in 5 new moms will develop this complication of childbirth and that if she does there is so much help available to her.
Get and give support: Find a local support group and join! Go to get help or go to give it. Go. We offer three support groups each month, with more to come!
Most of all remember:
We are here. We will be here. You are not alone. You never were.